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The silk painting, shown above, is by Ty Mam Duw, Poor Clare Colettines, Hawarden, WALES GB. Their website is here. Ty Mam Duw is Welsh and means The House of the Mother of God. Our Lady of the Pearl cherishes their friendship and is grateful for their many kindnesses and prayers. The image is used with permission.

Entertaining Angels

Entertaining Angels
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

We Are Seculars - Not Religious

At Secular Franciscan gatherings recently, questions concerning the evangelical counsels have come up, especially poverty. Seculars, looking at St. Francis and St. Clare, Friars and Poor Clares, for role models, often seem confused. The confusion is increased by Seculars who want to latch onto the idea that somehow we are "mini-friars" or "mini-clares."

Do we give away all our property? Do we open our homes and let the poor and homeless come to live with us? Do we sell our $200,000 - $400,000+ homes to live in an $80,000 one? Do we move from our affluent neighborhoods, drive a 1990 used car instead of our 2008 Mercedes, or give up private schools for our children? Do we go to poor neighborhoods and give away all our retirement funds? What do we do about our spouses who are not Secular Franciscans, perhaps not Catholic, who do not share our Franciscan spirituality in regard to possessions. All these matters and more flood our minds, causing anxiety that we are not being good Franciscans if we do not do these things and more.

I cannot presume to give a pact answer for any of these questions. The answer for each individual is between him/her and God. But start with this in your discernment: remember we are Seculars. We are not Friars and we are not Poor Clares. At profession, we did not make vows. We made promises. Read what we promised:

  • "I, _________________, by the grace of God, renew my baptismal promises and consecrate myself to the service of his Kingdom. Therefore, in my secular state I promise to live all the days of my life the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Secular Franciscan Order by observing its rule of life. May the grace of the Holy Spirit, the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and our holy father St. Francis, and the fraternal bonds of community always be my help so that I may reach the goal of perfect Christian love."

From the early days of the Franciscan movement, there were three groups: Lesser Brothers, Poor Ladies and Brothers and Sisters of Penance. Simply put, the first two groups gave away everything they owned and went to live in community. The third group, from which the Secular Franciscan Order originates, lived a life of prayer in their homes, with spouses and children and with all their stuff.

Article 11 of the Secular Franciscan Order Rule states:

  • "Trusting in the Father, Christ chose for himself and his mother a poor and humble life, even though he valued created things attentively and lovingly. Let the Secular Franciscans seek a proper spirit of detachment from temporal goods by simplifying their own material needs. Let them be mindful that according to the gospel they are stewards of the goods received for the benefit of God’s children. Thus, in the spirit of “the Beatitudes,” and as pilgrims and strangers on their way to the home of the Father, they should strive to purify their hearts from every tendency and yearning for possession and power."

Our Lady of the Pearl website addresses the evangelical counsels at I quote from that page:

  • The Secular Franciscan Order is an order in the Church, but is not, properly speaking, a religious order because it does not have the public profession of the vows to live the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience nor a requirement to live in community. The Secular Franciscan Order is a public association of the faithful. . . .
  • At profession, a Secular Franciscan makes promises to live "the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Secular Franciscan Order by observing its rule of life." A Secular Franciscan makes promises, not vows as do religious at their profession; therefore, a Secular Franciscan is not bound to the Evangelical Counsels the same way as religious. . . .
  • The Evangelical Counsels are essential to a Gospel-centered life, lived according to one's state of life, and for all in the Church responding to the universal call to holiness. They are present in spirit in the The Rule of the Secular Franciscan Order and the General Constitutions.
  • A deeper understanding of the universal call to holiness, the Evangelical Counsels, the laity and the religious may be obtained through a reading of Lumen Gentium. See our page, Lumen Gentium.

On that page there is also a writing, "The Evangelical Counsels and the Secular Franciscan Order," was written by Fr. Michael J. Higgins, TOR. Here is the web page address:

If I were required to sum up with one word the requirements for the Secular Franciscan in regard to poverty, I would use the word: simplicity. Another word would be: detachment.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION: Poverty and Joy: The Franciscan Tradition, by William J. Short, OFM, ISBN 1-57075-295-8, published by Orbis Books. Click below to order. If not available, online, call toll free at 866-428-2820 between 9A-5P mountain time. Ask them to order for you.

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1 comment:

Tausign said...

Great post - though I personally would have to walk away from the 2008 Mercedes.

Here's a funny car story. Back in 1988 I had just purchased a brand new Toyota Camry. The next weekend I attended a regional gathering of SFO's. The Regional Spiritual Assistant made a remark something like...'we should put a scratch in our car to keep us from getting too attached to it' Well instantly I went GULP and thought 'O no Lord...not my brand new car!'

A few weeks later I was visiting an elderly fraternity member. While my car was parked at the edge of her driveway a tree branch broke and fell on my car putting a small dent on the passenger door. The dent was located just where you would rest your arm if you drove with the window open.

My fraternal friend was 'mortified' that the tree dented my car and called the town to cut it down. (The tree belonged to the town and it was deseased).

A few weeks later the town sent me an insurance check for the damages - $200. In the memo of the check was a notation 'Cause of accident - AN ACT OF GOD.

I left that dent there and never had it fixed.